Excavations at the Galilean village of Huqoq have, in the past few years, uncovered a 5th-century synagogue with intricate and historically significant mosaics. Now archaeologists believe they may have found a synagogue built on its ruins in the 12th or 13th century. Owen Jarus writes:
The medieval builders reused the north and east walls of the ancient synagogue, as well as ancient columns and pedestals, placing them on top of low walls called stylobates. The floors of the medieval building were decorated with mosaics showing images of flowers and geometric designs. . . .
It’s not known what the medieval building was used for. As it was clearly a public building, [the archaeologist Jodi] Magness said she believes that it likely served as a church, a mosque, or a synagogue. Historical accounts say that during the 12th and 13th centuries, the Crusaders and Mamluks battled for control of the area around Huqoq.
“So far, I’ve found very little evidence of a Jewish presence in the area, which makes this structure both extremely exciting and frustrating,” reported Arnold Franklin, [a historian working with the team]. But one clue suggests that the building is a synagogue. Archaeologists found . . . benches lining the east, north, and west walls, something that “suggests it must be a synagogue,” said Magness, who noted such benches are commonly seen in synagogues. . . .
One of the few textual references [to a Jewish community in the village] comes from an early-14th-century traveler named Ishtori Haparḥi who “visited Huqoq—then called Yakuk—and reported seeing a ‘synagogue with a very old floor.’ We speculate that perhaps our building is that synagogue,” Magness said.
Read more on LiveScience: http://www.livescience.com/57592-medieval-synagogue-uncovered-sea-of-galilee.html